Appistry grabs distribution of MIT-Harvard genome toolkit

By Nick Taylor

Appistry snagged rights to distribute a next-generation sequencing data analysis platform developed by an MIT-Harvard joint venture. The software--called the Genome Analysis Toolkit, or GATK--is the engine behind computationally intensive initiatives including the 1000 Genomes Project and Cancer Genome Atlas.

Developed by the famous MIT-Harvard genomics joint venture, the Broad Institute, GATK underpins a host of apps for processing data from next-generation sequencing platforms. In the three years since it launched, the open source platform has built a monthly user base of 100,000 clinicians, biomedical researchers and bioinformatics professionals. Appistry is now targeting the for-profit slice of this community.

Appistry and the Broad Institute develop software that aims to analyze complex genomic data, which has exploded in volume with the advent of next-generation sequencing machines and dramatically falling costs of decoding DNA with the platforms.

To access the latest iteration of the platform, GATK 2.0, users at for-profit businesses need to pay a subscription fee. Appistry CEO Kevin Haar sees the move as a way to secure the future of GATK. "I think there's so much happening in this space and this space is moving so aggressively forward, that there's more and more opportunities for a toolkit like GATK to make a contribution," Haar told Bio-IT World.

In return for coughing up a license fee, for-profit users will receive customer support services from Appistry. The Broad Institute said commercial users had driven the move to a paid-for model by asking for better updates and support. "As an academic institution, we don't have the resources to offer the level of support that many for-profit users of the GATK want and need," said David Altshuler, deputy director of the Broad Institute.

The Broad Institute will also leverage the commercial infrastructure at Appistry to maximize sales while retaining its focus on development of the platform. Sales from the distribution deal will help the Broad Institute keep GATK free for its academic users. Nonprofits will have free access to GATK 2.0, while the old versions, renamed GATK-lite, will remain available for all.

- read the Bio-IT World article
- find out more in the press release